People are behaving in a slightly more civil way online, according to Microsoft. The world's rise in civil behavior online is reflected in Microsoft's 2018 Digital Civility Index (DCI) by a lower score of 66 percent, two points below last year's figure. That shift is due solely to a slight decline in people experiencing repeat unwanted contact. Despite the improvement, the world DCI score, Microsoft's Digital Civility Report 2018, paints a fairly grim picture of the negative behaviors that many people experience online. The other top four of 21 risks measured in the DCI remained unchanged, including bullying, receiving unwanted sexual images or messages, and hoaxes.
Today is "Safer Internet Day," so Microsoft has released some stats showing relative safety and civility by nation. It turns out that people find each other pretty civil online in the US, as the nation placed third on Microsoft's "Digital Civility Index." It can't hold a candle to the UK, however, which has the nicest internet community by a comfortable margin. By contrast, the worst places to be online are South Africa, Mexico and Russia, nations that also happen to struggle with high violent crime rates in the real world. To come up with the index, Microsoft conducted a study across 14 countries, asking teens and adults about four risks: behavioral, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.
First lady Melania Trump plans to convene tech giants including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snap next week to discuss ways to combat online harassment and promote Internet safety, according to four people familiar with her efforts. The meeting at the White House, slated for March 20, marks the first major policy push in the first lady's long-ago announced campaign to combat cyberbullying. At the gathering, Trump plans to ask policy executives from tech companies to detail how they've sought to address digital ills plaguing Web users, such as the rise of online trolls and the spread of malicious content, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss her efforts on the record. But the people said they don't expect the first lady to unveil any policy proposals to combat cyberbullying -- a term her team has sought to avoid, instead opting to focus on the need for kindness online. Asked about the upcoming event, a spokeswoman for Trump said in a statement that the first lady had "simply asked for a meeting to discuss one of the many things that impacts children."
SAN FRANCISCO -- After years of withering criticism over the sludge of toxic interactions on its platform, Twitter has put out a call for outside experts to measure the health of public conversation there in a new effort to restore civil debate. "We're committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress," chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said Thursday. The announcement, made via Twitter and a company blog post, is a clear acknowledgment by Twitter that interventions to crack down on abuse and hate speech haven't proven effective in combating troll armies, misinformation and "increasingly divisive echo chambers" that have roiled the platform, in Dorsey's words. Now Twitter's CEO says he's determined to build "a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking." Health, according to the company, will be established as a new measure of Twitter's performance.
It's hard to put a value on thwarted conversations. But here's what do know: the web is not a very civil place, and we're the ones who lose out. For those who publish content online – which is pretty much every company these days – the problem of cultivating civility at scale is vexing. So is limiting abusive comments without stifling open discourse. This has caused many publishers to abandon commenting entirely, outsource them to Facebook Comments (which doesn't solve this problem), or consider radical solutions, such as this Norwegian site which requires readers to pass a test indicating they read the article before commenting.